By Bob Uphues
Late last week, Riverside officials felt pretty good about a deal they'd reached with the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad to install a temporary pedestrian crossing just west of Longcommon Road while the railroad reconstructs the main grade crossing throughout the next week.
But over the weekend, Metra pulled the plug on the agreement, saying the solution would create a hazard for pedestrians. As a result, the Longcommon grade crossing is completely closed to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic until at least 4 p.m. on Friday, June 10.
The temporary grade crossing actually had been installed, but it was removed per Metra's order by 4 p.m. on Saturday. Unless Riverside could man the temporary crossing 24 hours a day, Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said, Metra would not allow it, saying it was not safe for pedestrians.
"I'm disappointed," said Village President Ben Sells in a press release, "that Metra decided, on a weekend before the end of school, to intervene in a pre-existing agreement to provide a safe crossing for pedestrians during this disruptive construction project. The village will do the best it can to respond to the inconveniences caused by Metra's decision,
Because the village had announced on Friday that the temporary pedestrian crossing would be available come Monday morning, Riverside police were stationed at the crossing to direct pedestrians and vehicles to the Cowley Road crossing, which has been established as the official detour.
Officials also indicated that BNSF has hired a private firm to provide personnel at the downtown train station from 6 to 9 a.m. and from 2 to 5 p.m. to provide assistance and direct traffic to Cowley Road.